Fonthill rower captures two Canadian titles
Football’s loss was rowing’s gain.
Shane Keagan grew up loving the gridiron and had aspirations of playing the game at the professional level. By Grade 9, the Fonthill resident was 250 pounds and loved playing the line.
But when Keagan enrolled at Ridley College he switched to rowing, a decision which has paid huge dividends.
Keagan recently placed first in the men’s under-19 500 metre and men’s under-17 2,000 metre divisions at the Canadian Indoor Rowing Championships.
The event was held virtually with rowers linking their ergometers to a computer to connect with the timing system.
Keagan, a 16-year-old, Grade 11 student, wasn’t quite sure what to expect heading into the competition.“Normally, I’m pretty good on my own but I think it made a bit of a difference for sure,” he said. “You don’t have the same sort of adrenaline and your mindset is definitely different. You have the start delay at the competitions so essentially you are treating it more like a time test and in this sense when it’s on line the start delay doesn’t help either.”
Because the event was the Americas qualifier for the world indoor rowing championships, there were entries from all over the Americas.
“When it’s virtual, it’s hard because you get people from all over the place,” Keagan added. “I won the Ontario and Canadians last year in the U17 2K categories. If you break 6:40 in that category, you’ve won that event. I won it at 6:15 and there were a lot of people under 6:40.”
Ridley rowing director Dereck Schwandt is proud of the work Keagan has put in.
“He’s been training hard at home and did the race in his basement,” Schwandt said. “I’m impressed with his ability to perform regardless of the environment.
“I’m excited to see his results given he is still in Grade 11. This is the first competition we’ve been able to have in 11 months and it was fun to see this event.”
Keagan, who recorded a personal best in the 500, prepares differently for each race.
“I’m typically stronger anaerobically so as the distance gets longer that’s where I get weaker, for a lack of a better term,” he said. “The 500 metre, it’s not anaerobic for sure. The way I attack it is your body can go at it’s anaerobic max for 40 seconds. No matter how hard you go for 40 seconds your body is going to feel as equally exhausted after that time period, give or take. The rest of it is just hanging on for dear life.”
He said he normally paces himself for the longer distance races.
“I get faster, I generally try to get a negative split.”
Keagan’s football background has come in handy.
“The aspect I liked about football was getting stronger all the time, especially when you are on the line,” he said. “It’s not like you need that special talent to deke someone out or catch a ball or be a quarterback.
“You get what you put into it. I think that’s what got me hooked at the start and I kind of just stuck with it.”
It also helped he was successful early on.
“I came into it as a pretty big kid, that obviously helped on the erg a little bit and when you’re good at something to start, you’re going to continue with it,” he said.
Kegan now tips the scale at around 190 pounds, a considerable drop from when he entered high school, which he attributes to rowing.
“I would guess so. You’re doing cardio. I don’t know if anything else would attribute to that. I think it’s just my lifestyle overall changed going into Ridley,” he said.
Keagan, who won a gold medal in a junior eight and a bronze in a junior four at the 2019 Canadian Secondary School Rowing Association Regatta, made the decision to attend Ridley at the last minute.
“At first it was just exploring different options,” he said. “I can’t remember what got me started on it. It was more academic interest initially. I didn’t feel like it was something I wanted to do but I did a summer program there and I had done well and they reached out and we changed out minds at that point, my family and I.”
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